This has been an intense week for everyone in this country as teachers in Michigan and elsewhere have struggled to heal divisions or confront ongoing nastiness in the wake of Donald Trump’s surprise presidential victory on Tuesday. But here at home, those of us who care about Detroit schools are also trying to get to know the six women and one man who have been chosen to help shepherd our schools through for the next 2-6 years.
“I … want to make sure students learn in a safe environment and that teachers are adequately paid. … We want for our kids what other districts want for their kids.”
— Angelique Peterson-Maybury, newly elected member,
Detroit Public Schools Community District board
Read on for more information about the new board members as well as the rest of a busy week that included news of a new push to help young Detroiters and an update on the future of the state-run recovery district. Thanks for reading!
The top seven
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Detroit voters who managed to wade through the city’s three-page ballot on Tuesday and find the list of 63 candidates seeking seats on Detroit’s new school board selected seven people to serve on the first (almost) empowered locally elected school board that Detroit has had in years. The highest vote-getters will serve six-year terms, while those with fewer votes will serve four- or two-year terms — a setup designed to ensure that not every seat is up for reelection at the same time. Here’s what we know about the winners:
- The candidate with the most campaign spending got the most votes — and a six-year term. Angelique Peterson-Maybury is the community relations director at UAW-Ford and the mother of two students currently enrolled in the district.
- The other candidate elected for six years, Georgia Lemmons, did not report any campaign fundraising or answer surveys from the district or major newspapers about her background or experience. But she was the only candidate to have a special designation — “certified teacher” — appear with her name on the ballot. She petitioned a court for that designation so voters could distinguish her from her husband.
- Georgia Lemmons is the wife of LaMar Lemmons, who served on the old DPS school board and was also elected to the new board — the only person to do so. LaMar Lemmons, who is an aide to a state representative, said he believe he and his wife are the first married couple to serve on a Detroit school board. A third Lemmons family member on the ballot did not make the cut with voters.
- Candidates elected to four-year terms are:
- Iris Taylor, the retired former CEO of Detroit Receiving Hospital
- Sonya Mays, the CEO of a real estate and housing development nonprofit
- Misha Stallworth, the advocacy coordinator for Detroit Area Agency on Aging. The youngest winner at 27, Stallworth is the daughter of former state Rep. Thomas Stallworth III. Her uncle and grandmother were also elected state lawmakers.
- The two members who will serve just two years before needing to run again are Lamar Lemmons and Deborah Hunter-Harvill, who heads an education consulting firm.
- The union that represents Detroit teachers claimed victory on Tuesday. Four of its endorsed candidates were elected, giving union-supported members a majority.
- Of the nine endorsement lists that Chalkbeat reviewed last week, the group that saw the highest number of its endorsed candidates elected was the 13th Congressional District Democrats, which backed five of the winners (including the four endorsed by the teachers union).
- One critic says the election was actually illegal.
That other election:
- Video of students at a suburban Detroit middle school chanting “build the wall” as a way of taunting Latino classmates has gone viral and turned the school into a national symbol of division.
- A school near Lansing is investigating a similar incident where white students locked arms to symbolize a wall.
- The incidents underscore the difficulty teachers are facing as they walk the fine line between honoring free speech and making sure children feel safe in the wake of the election, the Detroit News says.
- ‘Will I be deported?’ Inside America’s classrooms in the wake of Trump’s win.
- The day after: Hard questions as education reform wakes up to Trump’s America.
- After welcoming almost 150 undocumented teachers, Teach for America starts planning for a Trump reality.
- Indiana Gov. Mike Pence could take a leading role in education in the Trump administration. Here’s his record on education policy.
More from Election Day:
- The state board of education is now divided evenly between Democrats and Republicans, setting the board up for a brewing battle over issues like charter schools and school funding.
- The Wayne County school tax hike passed, leading to cheers from school leaders. “We now have an exceptional opportunity to invest more fully in programs and initiatives that will strengthen the district’s academic plan, improve our facilities and reinforce safety and security,” said Alycia Meriweather, the interim superintendent of Detroit’s main school district.
- Suburban voters also supported most of the tax hikes that were on the ballot throughout the region.
- An influential pro-school choice lobbying group announced that 49 of the 53 candidates it endorsed in the state house had won their elections.
- Two major foundations are leading a high-profile effort called “Hope Starts Here” to design a “world-class” program to serve the health and education needs of Detroit’s youngest children, from babies to third graders. The effort will invite tens of thousands of Detroiters to make recommendations for immediate and long-term actions that will culminate in a “citywide action plan” next summer.
- Plans for folding the Education Achievement Authority schools back into Detroit’s main school district are underway, and debts owed by the state-run recovery district have been resolved. Still unclear is what will happen to the EAA’s teachers, who aren’t members of the teachers union and are paid on a different scale from district teachers.
- High schools in the main Detroit district will get career-based themes similar to the medicine and science theme at the Ben Carson High School of Science and Medicine. At least that’s what’s in the academic plan released this week by the district’s leaders. To be implemented, however, the plan will need approval from the new school board.
- A program for high school journalists is helping kids from 11 high schools publish a newspaper that bills itself as “the student voice of Detroit’s high schools.”
- A conference today and tomorrow aims to encourage more churches and businesses to partner with schools to improve conditions for kids in poverty. A former United Way official is using the event to launch his book about a community partnership in Detroit’s Cody Rouge community that improved graduation rates.
- The corrupt school supply vendor who pled guilty to luring a dozen Detroit principals into a bribery scheme has started his five-year prison stint.
- A Detroit teacher has been accused of assaulting a kindergartner as payback for the child making fun of the teacher.
- More than 350 JROTC cadets from Detroit schools are expected to participate in today’s Veterans Day observance ceremony at the Historic Elmwood Cemetery.
Across the state:
- The head of a national charter school organization warns that as Michigan considers closing schools for low performance, officials should be on the lookout for struggling schools that “resort to politics and personal attacks to garner sympathy for their plight and divert attention from their failings.” Closing a school, he writes, is “agonizing,” but sometimes necessary.
- Chalkbeat wrote recently about a Detroit charter school that says it’s turning things around, even if that turnaround hasn’t yet been reflected in test scores. Now several other schools across the state are making similar arguments.
- Online-only schools in Michigan that let kids do their lessons from home have seen a spike in enrollment.
- The list of state high school band competition winners is awfully similar to last year’s.
- A suburban school is hosting a “life after high school” fair for students with “learning differences” to explore college and vocational options.
- Michigan families can now turn to a state website to search for and apply for more than 5 million scholarships worth up to $25 billion.
- The state education department is now accepting nominations for the prestigious $10,000 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
- Some western Michigan districts are ramping up reading instruction to prepare kids for the new tougher third-grade promotion requirements that will affect this year’s kindergartners.
- A new report looks at the impact of the Michigan Teaching Fellowship Program, which trains science, technology, and math teachers to work in some of the state’s neediest schools.